Today I am in Wales, after a great weekend in England. Thank you to those in Clay Cross who received the word of God. It was great being in worship with you all and getting to see your faces again.
Embracing the will of God will lead us into the things of God in our lives. God wants to lead us into things that are beyond anything that we have known before. How can we acquire God’s wisdom and direction for our future? We must first know that God’s thoughts are always for our future and they are thoughts of hope, even if circumstances don’t communicate this to us. At the beginning of Israel’s seventy years of captivity, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah that His thoughts for them were thoughts of a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11). We must remember that our natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, so we must put our natural man into subjection to our inner spirit man in an environment of embracing the manifest presence of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “Who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
We must tell our natural man, “You are natural. Don’t judge things by what you see, hear, or think right now.” We must always subject our natural man to the Spirit. We must be careful. Our thoughts might not be right. What we are seeing might not be what we think. What we are hearing might not be totally accurate.
We must never debate with our natural man. The natural man is not bad. Part of us is a natural man or woman. It is the part of us that simply cannot receive the things of God on its own. The natural man is not necessarily the flesh led man. It has the potential of walking according to the flesh or according to the Spirit. We are sojourners; both natural and spirit and thus we are spiritual. We are natural, but the Spirit must always lead us.
1 Peter 1:17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear…
Only our spirit man can receive the things of God. Our natural man cannot receive the things of God without the submission to our spirit man. God wants us to experience what we cannot receive naturally. We need a supernatural relationship with God. We need both natural bread and Living Bread to be healthy people in life.
Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Being spiritual is not being a spiritual spook. Pursuing the things of the Spirit is not pursuing an out of body experience with God. It is pursuing the Spirit of Christ through our hearts that empowers our spirit, soul, and body to be one before Him. We cannot exalt one part of our being and consider this a sign of maturity. Our spirit, soul, and body are all one before Him and the voice of God is meant to empower our full being to be led by Him. We are led by the Spirit of Christ in our spirits, impassioned in our souls by the passion of our spirits from within, and expressed in our lives in natural ways through the outward testimony of who we are in this world. The flesh does not lead us; the Spirit leads us. The flesh does not lead us in carnal ways, but we do walk in the flesh in Spirit empowered ways.
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
We must learn to trust the spirit man within us. Christ in us is the hope of glory and the Holy Spirit is interceding within our hearts according to the will of God in heaven. We must trust the inner voice of God in our hearts and be lead by Christ’s Spirit within us. It is not just trusting a voice; it is trusting the voice of the One who loves us. It is trusting the voice of God’s love in our hearts.
We need God’s power by God’s love at work in our lives. It is not an either/or option. We must pursue practical ways of expressing God’s love to others with a supernatural empowerment. There was a time when I was addicted to fasting because my focus was weird. I didn’t know how to enjoy life and all of the aspects of life. I thought being spiritual was pursuing only the things of the Spirit. I didn’t realize that life is meant to be a testimony of God in every aspect. We must live for God and others.
1 Corinthians 12:31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
These verses are not saying to stop speaking in the tongues or to stop exercising any other aspect of the power of the Holy Spirit. These verses are simply saying that the love of God towards others is expressed with power. Hearing God’s voice is always going to make us spirit natural. Hearing God will make us responsible people of love in life.
Our motive in hearing God must be love. Our motive in hearing God is not to make right choices. Our motive in hearing God is not to become spiritual. The motive is to love God and to love others. We should desire to hear God so we can be empowered to love others. It is not a ‘what to do’, but a ‘desire to do’. Hearing God is more about giving than receiving, although it includes receiving. We need God’s love and God’s gifts.
1 Corinthians 14:1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
The word for pursue in theses verses literally means to chase after. We must chase after every opportunity to show God’s love to others. This is agape love, the kind of love that makes sacrifices for others and demonstrates those sacrifices with actions of love on their behalf. The word desire means to earnestly covet. We must chase after opportunities to show love to others and we must earnestly covet the supernatural ability of God in doing so. We must earnestly covet to prophesy, to speak Spirit-empowered words of life to others. If we do these things we are greater than simply living for the edification of our own lives. The term greater simply means to be large or more mature – a giver of life to others. We cannot really show love without the power to love. God’s love is a supernatural love.
1 Corinthians 14:14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.15 What is the result then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.
We must embrace the aspect of not understanding as well the aspect of understanding for the sake of others. Hearing God will not only bring life to us, it will bring life to others around us.
Ted J. Hanson